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Garbage, recycling, and yard waste

The RDOS administers curbside pick-up of garbage, recycling, and yard waste pickup for the more urban parts of Area F (essentially the greater West Bench).  These three waste streams are increasingly treated separately for one simple reason: the Campbell Mountain Landfill is filling up and it will be very expensive to close (when the time comes) and replace.  We all have a strong economic incentive to keep as much waste as possible out of the landfill so that we can delay this expense as long as possible.

Myth: Recycling doesn't matter because it all ends up the the landfill anyway.

Status: Busted*

* Glass containers are the exception.  It is uneconomic for the RDOS to recycle glass containers--there is really nothing we can do with glass except turn it back into sand, which we have lots of already.  In fact, we no longer accept glass in blue bags or blue boxes because it just breaks and contaminates the valuable stuff, like paper and tin cans.  If you really feel compelled to recycle glass containers (the non-refundable ones, like pickle jars) you have to take them the recycle depot. That glass is crushed and used for landfill cover.  In other words, it ends up in the landfill.  I toss my pickle jars in the garbage.

Myth: The RDOS doesn't permit plastic films (e.g. plastic bags, drycleaning wrap) in curbside recycling because it is cheaper to just put all that plastic in the ocean.

Status: Busted.  We cannot accept plastic film in our curbside recycling because our recycling stream is sorted mechanically (plastic, metal cans, paper, and so on).  Plastic film gums up the robots. So instead, we ask you, while you have the bag in your hand, to keep it separate from your other recycling and take it into the recycling depot or landfill from time to time.  I find with a bit of compression that I can get about a year's worth of plastic film in a standard blue recycling bag (yet more film).  So this should not be too onerous.

Myth: The refund-based recycling system (drink containers, beer cans) has outlived its usefulness and needs to be merged into our established non-refund based curbside services.

Status: Actually, I think this is true.  It is not the 1970s anymore.  We know how to recycle and don't need a nickel as an incentive.  I, for one, would like to be able to put my beer cans out on the street.  That aluminum is valuable and could be used to offset the costs of the curbside service for all of us.

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